Monthly Archives: September 2009

How Not to Time Travel: Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes) Movie Review

I Spy a Time Paradox

I Spy a Time Paradox

Cronocrímenes is the first feature-length science fiction film from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo. It was filmed in Cantabria province (northern Spain) and The Basque Country.

The movie begins with a couple moving into a new neighborhood. Their home is pretty much isolated, which sets things up nicely for a bit of a scare. The husband, Hector (Karra Elejalde), receives a mysterious phone call with no talking but plenty of heavy breathing. Hector finds it strange that anybody would know their new number.

While his wife is away running errands, Hector takes a break and sees something strange in the bushes near his house and decides to investigate the neighboring trail. What he finds forces him to run away and he stumbles upon an unusual lab in his escape route. Hector becomes an unwilling participant in a time travel experiment and he creates a paradox that is theoretically interesting although you do wonder how a seemingly smart human being could make so many bad choices. There comes a point in the film where you may get lost amongst the timelines. Still, it is an interesting treatise on the perils of time travel that is less fantastical than most movies– it is a more “realistic” view if you will. Also if you enjoy a bit of horror with your time trekking, you will enjoy Cronocrímenes.

Beware there is another YouTube trailer that contains spoilers.  This one is spoiler-free:

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Sleep Dealer or “Never Trust a Woman With Nodes” (Movie Review)

All in a day's work

All in a day's work

Sleep Dealer is a science fiction film by New York-based writer/director Alex Rivera. His first feature-length film is set in near future Mexico (Rivera himself is of mixed Peruvian heritage). In this world of hi-tech, killer flying drones are common and construction workers power robots with their minds. On the flip side, families struggle to buy water hoarded by water concession reservoirs charging outrageous prices. The U.S. is heavily dependent on foreign workers for manual labor, but to avoid immigration, workers from Mexico and other countries connect to robots on U.S. soil via nodes integrated into their nervous systems. Corporations and families get their labor without the laborers.

The plot follows Memo Cruz (Luis Fernando Peña), a young hacker from a once prosperous farming community. He spends his days listening in on the world outside his small town of Santa Ana del Río, Oaxaca.  One day his whole life changes into one he had only known from television.

Memo meets Luz Martínez, a blogger who literally sells her memories online. (The character is played by Leonor Varela; Stargate Atlantis fans may recognize her as High Priestess Chaya Sar ). Luz is fascinating to Memo because she is the first person he’s met with nodes, and Memo holds Luz’s interest as a way to pay off her student loans. Memo’s past soon catches up to him and therein lies the intriguing part of the story.

I highly recommend this film to any tech-loving or dystopian-loving geek. The writer did an excellent job of creating a rich world with its on slang and culture. Although the film loses steam about 2/3 into the movie, it recovers its momentum towards the end and you find yourself yearning to learn more about this brave new world. There is great potential for a sequel or a TV-series spin-off. Are you listening, Hollywood?

See the trailer in English at the movie’s website, though you might want to skip the spoiler-ridden synopsis.

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2009 Alma Awards Winners

Selena Gómez, Ricardo Montalbán (here with Esther Williams in the 1948  film “On an Island With You” ) and Lauren Vélez were were recognized at the 2009 Alma Awards ceremony

Selena Gómez, Ricardo Montalbán (here with Esther Williams in the 1948 film “On an Island With You” ) and Lauren Vélez were were recognized at the 2009 Alma Awards ceremony

As an update to my previous post, here are my impressions of the Alma Awards. First, it was not live.  While I found this annoying in a way I loved how it shaved off show time. Usually award shows like this go on for way too long. This one was packed into two hours of nonstop acceptance speeches, video montages, and performances. The best performance was by a young singer called David Archuleta who I had never heard of before but since the tweens on Twitter were going crazy for him I looked him up and turns out he was last year’s American Idol finalist. He sang a timeless love song in español (Contigo en la Distancia- Together Across the Distance) effortlessly. Kudos to David! Shakira gave a disappointing overly sexual performace of She-Wolf. Shakira, you don’t need to do that, honey. Your talent transcends any body gyrations you can make onstage. Nelly Furtado sang Manos al aire (Hands Up) from her first album in Spanish (and I loved it). I think the only thing I really disliked about the Alma Awards was George Lopez’s sense of humor- repeatedly putting down your own people to get laughs really isn’t the best thing to do at a show that intends to transcend stereotypes. Lopez’s comments made me uncomfortable during the whole show. At least Eva Longoria was classy.

They didn’t present any winners to the “Year Behind the Scenes” category, so check the link below for the full list of Alma winners in case it was a separate ceremony. (It wasn’t up when I wrote this.) Here are some genre highlights from the awards ceremony:

  • Edward James Olmos presented a special sports award to boxer Oscar de la Hoya for his boxing and philanthropy work. We all know Admiral Adama likes boxing, so he was a fitting presenter for this particular award. Before presenting it, Olmos blessed the audience and I swear was *this* close to saying “So Say We All!” Maybe not- but I like to think he wanted to!
  • The gorgeous Salma Hayek, who has been in several genre films, was very gracious with her long time fans and dedicated her Anthony Quinn Award for Industry Excellence to them. Thanks Salma!
  • When Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) accepted her best comedy actress award she said that there were many other nominated actresses more talented than she is. Perhaps, but this girl definitely has the potential of greatness and the fact that her show focuses on a Latino-heritage family makes it a win for families who watch Disney TV. Latino kids can watch other kids like them on TV, and other ethnicities can enjoy some Disney bubblegum with a Latino flavor. That’s inspiration right there.
  • Rita Moreno presented a special recognition of Ricardo Montalbán and his work helping other Latino actors in the industry. They had a great video montage, and his role as Khan was singled out! I had no idea how hot he was when he was young and starting out. Wow.
  • Dexter’s Lauren Velez won best TV drama actress. When she got up to accept her award I did a double take because there were TWO of her! Not really; it was her twin sister. Sweet of them to be together like that.

From one boxer to another

From one boxer to another

I don’t think the Alma Awards are very accurate in actually giving out awards; I suspect they are more image awards than performance awards, and they don’t like to repeat winners. It makes sense in a way because the Alma Awards is a concept created by the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. In the end, I suspect the award statuettes are an excuse to get together and celebrate Latinos in the business in one big fiesta. I’m OK with that to an extent, because awards might end up going to the same batch of excellent actors year after year, and that would get old fast. What we need then are more Latinos in the industry. When we become commonplace, award shows like this will become redundant.

Winners announced on the actual show were (full list here):

  • TVACTOR, COMEDY: Oscar Nunez, The Office
  • TVACTRESS, COMEDY: Selena Gomez, Wizards of Waverly Place
  • TV ACTOR, DRAMA: Benjamin Bratt, The Cleaner, A&E
  • TV ACTRESS, DRAMA: Lauren Vélez, Dexter, SHO
  • ACTOR, FILM: John Leguizamo, Nothing Like the Holidays
  • ACTRESS, FILM: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona


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And the 2009 Alma Awards Geeky Nominees Are…

Alma Awards

This Friday, September 18th, I’m checking out the Alma Awards show! It’s Latino Emmys, Grammys, and Oscars all rolled into one. I admit I am an Alma Awards virgin, but this year it looks like several of my favorite genre peeps will be on the show as presenters or nominees (or both!). Here’s a list of the nominees for 2009.  I’ve highlighted genre shows or film. There are other categories like sports and music, but… yeah. You can see the full list at the Alma Awards website, along with the 2008 winners list to give you an idea of the categories that the Alma Awards focuses on. There will also be a tribute to Ricardo Montalban, presented by Rita Moreno. “Alma” means “soul” or “spirit” by the way.

I don’t want to make predictions because I don’t have a firm grasp on how the show votes BUT I can say who I’m rooting for!


  • I’m rooting for: James Roday, Psych, USA (OK, not really genre but the show’s too geeky to miss)
  • Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men, CBS
  • Demián Bichir, Weeds, SHO
  • George Lopez, Mr. Troop Mom, NICK
  • Horatio Sanz, In The Motherhood, ABC
  • Jake T. Austin, Wizards of Waverly Place, DISNEY CHANNEL
  • Love> Joshua Gomez, Chuck, NBC
  • Mark Indelicato, Ugly Betty, ABC
  • Oscar Nunez, The Office, NBC
  • Ricardo Antonio Chavira, Desperate Housewives, ABC
  • Tony Plana, Ugly Betty, ABC


  • I’m rooting for, but she won last year: America Ferrera, Ugly Betty, ABC
  • Ana Ortiz, Ugly Betty, ABC
  • Eva Longoria Parker, Desperate Housewives, ABC
  • Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Entourage, HBO
  • Jessica Alba, The Office, NBC
  • Joanna Garcia, Privileged, CW
  • Judy Reyes, Scrubs, ABC
  • >> Miss you, Reaper! Lupe Ontiveros, Reaper, CW
  • Maria Canals-Barrera, Wizards of Waverly Place, DISNEY CHANNEL
  • Nadine Velazquez, My Name Is Earl, NBC
  • Rosie Perez, Lipstick Jungle, NBC
  • Salma Hayek, 30 Rock, NBC
  • Selena Gomez, Wizards of Waverly Place, DISNEY CHANNEL


  • Rooting for: Nestor Carbonell, Lost, ABC
  • Rooting for, but won last year: Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica, SYFY
  • >> LOVE. But won last year: Jorge Garcia, Lost, ABC
  • Adam Rodriguez, CSI Miami, CBS
  • Amaury Nolasco, Prison Break, FOX
  • Benito Martinez, The Shield, FX
  • Benjamin Bratt, The Cleaner, A&E
  • Cristian de la Fuente, In Plain Sight, USA
  • Danny Pino, Cold Case, CBS
  • Enrique Murciano, Without a Trace, CBS
  • Esai Morales, Jericho, CBS
  • Jimmy Smits, Dexter, SHO
  • Miguel Sandoval, Medium, NBC/CBS
  • David Zayas, Dexter, SHO
  • Carlos Bernard, 24, FOX


  • Rooting for: Lauren Vélez, Dexter, SHO
  • Alana De La Garza, Law & Order, NBC
  • Cote de Pablo, NCIS, CBS
  • HATED the character>> Dania Ramirez, Heroes, NBC
  • Eva La Rue, CSI Miami, CBS
  • Francia Raisa, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager, ABC Family
  • Julie Gonzalo, Eli Stone, ABC
  • Justina Machado, ER, NBC
  • Laura Cerón, ER, NBC
  • Michelle Rodriguez, Lost, ABC
  • Paola Turbay, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager, ABC Family; The Closer, TNT
  • Paula Garcés, The Shield, FX
  • Roselyn Sanchez, Without a Trace, CBS
  • Sara Ramirez, Grey’s Anatomy, ABC


  • Rooting for: Luis Guzmán, The Taking of Pelham 123
  • Alfred Molina, Pink Panther 2
  • Cheech Marin, Race To Witch Mountain
  • Freddy Rodriguez, Nothing Like the Holidays
  • Oscar Nunez, The Proposal
  • Clifton Collins Jr., Star Trek; Crank:  High Voltage
  • Efren Ramirez, Crank:  High Voltage
  • Javier Bardem, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Two Lovers
  • John Leguizamo, Nothing Like the Holidays
  • Ramon Rodriguez, Transformers:  Revenge of The Fallen


  • Rooting LOUDLY for: Zoe Saldana, Star Trek
  • Elisabeth Peña, Nothing Like the Holidays
  • Sofía Vergara, Madea Goes to Jail
  • Cameron Diaz, My Sister’s Keeper
  • Eva Mendes, The Spirit, The Women
  • Michelle Rodriguez, Fast & Furious
  • Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • LOVE>> Rosario Dawson, Seven Pounds


  • Rooting for: Guillermo del Toro, Director, Hellboy 2:  The Golden Army
  • David Ortiz, Producer, Hellboy 2:  The Golden Army; Fast & Furious
  • Kenny Ortega, Director, HSM3
  • Linda Mendoza, Director, various productions, including Jonas; Scrubs
  • Natalie Chaidex, Co-Executive Producer, Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles
  • Peter Murrieta, Writer/Executive Producer, Wizards of Waverly Place
  • Rene Echevarria, Executive Producer/Writer, Medium
  • Roberto Orci, Writer, Star Trek; Transformers 2; Executive Producer, The Proposal (TV: Fringe)
  • Salma Hayek, Executive Producer, Ugly Betty
  • Louis J. Horvitz, Director, Awards Specials
  • YES.>> Claudio Miranda, Cinematographer, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Oscar Nominee)
  • Mike Elizalde, Makeup, Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Oscar Nominee)
  • Jeanne Van Phue, Makeup, Twilight
  • Mary Ann Valdes, Hair Stylist, Twilight; Ugly Betty
  • Silvio Horta, Executive Producer/Writer, Ugly Betty
  • LOVE>> Edward James Olmos, Director, Battlestar Galactica
  • Moctesuma Esparza, Executive Producer/Executive, Independent Films
  • Alfredo De Villa, Director, Nothing Like the Holidays
  • Rick Najera, Writer, Nothing Like the Holidays

Lauren Vélez

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Avatar Day with Zoe Saldaña in Puerto Rico

Avatar Movie Pass

On Friday, August 21 director James Cameron blessed the eager masses with a sneak peek at his latest film, Avatar. I was one of those impatient moviegoers, especially after not being able to see the Comic-Con preview everyone was buzzing about. I got tickets (thanks!) for the screening and boy was I happy. Later I found out via Twitter that Zoe Saldaña (Uhura from Star Trek) would be there since she was on the island filming The Losers.

Once everyone was seated, Twentieth Century Fox marketing people introduced Zoe Saldaña (the ñ sounds like the gn in lasagna), and she read a very boring Fox blurb about the movie. It was interesting hearing her read in Spanish though, since I hadn’t heard her speak it before. Zoe grew up in the Dominican Republic and the U.S. so she speaks Spanish quite well, although she falls back on English when she doesn’t know the right words. She made up a couple of words during the Q&A, but everyone got what she was saying so it’s all good (we speak Spanglish too here).

Zoe introduced the approximately 15 minute screening and sat down to watch it with us. We had our 3-D glasses on and really enjoyed ourselves. The scenes have been extensively covered elsewhere, so I’ll just briefly go over them.

  1. James Cameron had a brief on-screen introduction and let us know we were going to see scenes from the first half of the movie.
  2. We see a colonel warning his soldiers about the crazy dangerous inhabitants of the Planet Pandora, where the movie takes place. A soldier (Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington of Terminator Salvation) enters the room on a wheelchair.
  3. Jake is on an operating table. Somehow they connect his mind to an avatar, a tall blue creature with a long tail. How they got this blue body isn’t clear from what I saw. Jake is so happy to be able to walk that he disrupts the lab, especially with his tail.
  4. We see a lush jungle with an avatared Sigourney Weaver (she plays one of the lab doctors) facing a dinosaur that looks like a triceratops/velociraptor hybrid. Another dinosaur runs after them.
  5. The same jungle but at night. Jake and Neytiri (Saldaña) confront small doggish creatures and Neytiri gets pissed off because they had to kill them. When Jake asks why she helped him, Neytiri says that he has “a strong heart.” I must say that despite the distraction of this cheesy line, the jungle was absolutely gorgeous- jaw dropping in fact. It was nighttime but some of the plants were bioluminescent. It was beautiful in all its 3-D splendor.
  6. Sam must choose a dragon type creature to bond with. He learns how to fly it. More beautiful shots. I can’t say enough about how amazing this movie looks.
  7. The last bit of the screening was a series of quick shots showing either a war with heavy machinery or perhaps a forest clearing. Neytiri was crying.

I think the movie will be absolutely beautiful to look at, but I am afraid the dialogue and plot isn’t going to be all that wonderful. It seems another picture where the non-native infiltrates the natives, realizes that his people are mistreating the natives, and ends up saving his new friends.  I admit Disney’s Pocahontas flashed through my brain a couple of times, although the 3-D eye candy made it easy to forget. I really, really hope I’m wrong about the plot.

After the screening Zoe answered some questions. One of them was about her physical preparation. She said she grew up riding horses and practicing archery and dancing. She mentioned that she had to learn how to run, because as a dancer, she glides (her words).

I was able to tape the other answers so here’s a link. Zoe answered partly in Spanish so I subtitled those bits in English. One thing that was left out from the videos that I think is important: after a question to Zoe about her geeky roles, the 20th Century Fox marketing director was quick to point out that Avatar was not specifically geared to geeks. He said it was a movie of emotions and feelings, and just like Titanic was not a disaster movie, this was not a sci-fi movie. So… the official line is that Avatar is not a sci-fi movie? Oh, Fox. You make me want to bitch-slap you.

First video (of five) here:

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